Comparison: Restored Steinway model O rosewood 1912 vs black 1905

Video transcription:

This is a comparison between 2 Steinway model O grand pianos. That’s 5’10 1/2 inches long. This Steinway was made in 1912 and is just recently come into stock.

This Steinway was made in 1906 also recently arriving in stock:

We will start off with this black polyester Steinway. This one is a fully restored Steinway grand. the third pedal in the middle was added when it was restored.

It is possible to add a sostenuto pedal to pianos of this age. It originally comes without them. But the mechanism inside allows you to do that.

Now you can see the keytops here. They have been replaced. The tops were originally ivories. They have been replaced due to hard wear of the original keytops. They look just right with the new black finish. Black polyester, just like a modern piano.

The Steinway logo has also been made to look like a modern logo

Now the 1912 Steinway is all original and if we focus in here. We can see that it has original ivory keys, in perfect condition.

Now the logo on the Steinway in Rosewood is not brass.

It is actually boxwood inlay. Which was quite commonly done on higher quality Steinway pianos.

The case on this Steinway is a lovely figured rosewood. And the polish is almost perfect, although it does have some fading.

The fading is slightly on this right-hand side

Buy mainly on the top lid which has been folded over. This is such a common thing on wooden pianos. I have mentioned it in other videos as they have been kept open as they have been played. And obviously, underneath where it was not exposed to light.

If you do have a wooden piano it is important to keep it closed. Not just sunlight does it. It is general exposure to light. Including indirect sunlight.

Now it is a lovely figured rosewood. We can fully repolish this piano. It has devalued the piano slightly that is faded. If you did want a full refinish, that is something that we offer. We do full French polishing. It takes about 70 hours, so it does add a lot to the price. But we believe we are trying to achieve the highest standard finish.

The music stand also has a beautifully figured rosewood and is faded. The whole piano is faded apart from the part that wasn’t exposed. Since it has faded the piano would appear darker if we repolish the piano.

You can see that some book holders have been installed here. That is very useful especially if you have some very thick books to keep the music open.

We could add music holders to the black polyester Stieinway too, it is possible to do without damaging the polyester.

Looking at the inside. The thing we want to do, is to check the tuning pin tightness. On this rosewood one, they are extremely tight. the wrest plank underneath has not been replaced.


It is not necessary to replace Steinway wrest planks although. When we fully redo the piano, we usually do.

On the black polyester Steinway grand, we have changed the wrest plank. A sign of a replaced pinblock are the slightly smaller tuning pins.

The restoration on the rosewood one was done by Steinway in 1984 and again a Steinway technician in 1995 has done some further work. He restrung the piano. Steinways previously have done some work on the action.

So both the action and the strings have been replaced. The Steinway technician in 1985 restrung the piano. Steinway themselves did some other work on the action. So both the action and the strings have been replaced. As you will see in a minute this is quite a special piano.

Now the insides of the black piano you will see it has been finished off in a slightly different way. It has a beautiful matte finish here:

This matches the piano superbly and matches the original Steinway finish. And the soundboard has been shimmed.

The 1912 Rosewood Steinway does not look like it has needed any shimming at all. [Shimming is when a restorer mends cracks in the soundboard usually caused by dryness. It would appear this piano has been a stable environment since the soundboard and tuning pins are in great condition!]

There is the original logo on the soundboard, which is rather beautiful.


Let’s compare the tone of the two pianos. They are both German Steinways by the way.

This is [the Rosewood Steinway grand], is as warm as you can get on a model O Steinway. The top treble has already been voiced.

The black 1905 – Still very warm. I would call it a slightly more modern sound. More like a modern piano. More in between an old sound and new style sound.

Going up through the treble there is a little bit of voicing work needed.

Both have superb tenor sound.

Looking at the action on both pianos. The black Steinway model O has had the top and bottom action replaced:

That will be Renner bottom action with Abel top. With Able hammers.

Steinway obviously uses Abel and Renner perhaps more Renner then Abel hammers. But they certainly use Abel. So do Bosendorfer voicer and tuner.

I went to the factory recently. He was explaining that even two sets of hammers can be very different. And he has to work each set of hammers differently. And I fee the same. It is difficult to know what to do. These are excellent hammers but they do need voicing especially in the treble area.

So wonderful hammers, but at the top end they need a lot of voicing. When they are put on in the press. they are put on very hard. Sometimes they need to be a bit more pointed.  So I will be working on those they are not quite pointed enough in the top end.

In the USA they do a lot of doping hammers. In the UK too sometimes we find it necessary with sets of hammers. I don’t know really know too much about the USA. Perhaps you’d like to comment on that. But the top and bottom action have been replaced. in this case.

The Rosewood Steinway

It has been done very differently. This is originally bottom and top actions here. The hammers have been changed. the Rollers hammers and centre pins have been replaced as necessary. the end result is just as good actually if done properly. This has been done by a retired Steinway technician. You can see here.

The rosewood Steinway


Actually, the action was done by Steinway. I think the retired Steinway technician did some refacing and voicing. You will see the original receipts are attached to the description of the piano on our website. Here we see french chalk as well. The results are like a new piano. extremely well done.

So it is excellently done, the hammers are not really very worn. They have been refaced but you couldn’t tell. I think they have been refaced and voiced. Because as you will see here in a minute, it is a delightful tone.

So that is a comparison of two pianos just recently in stock. It has been restored by Steinway and by a Steinway technician later on. You will see the invoices and description of this piano on our website.

Steinway Rosewood

Tone and touch are just delightful. The staff love this piano and so do I. And we have only just got it in. There is some slight refinement to do on this piano. Some very slightly refinement on touch and tone. Very very slightly. It really is superb. Now you can’t feel it yourself obviously. The down weight is about 50grams. I use coins here, we have proper weights when we weight before adjusting. There is slightly less weight at the top and more at the bottom of the piano. The weight needs to be as low as possible. It is too little weight the keys will stick.

The touch is a delight and silky to play. Now the longevity of the two pianos will not be very different as this has been reconditioned and will hold its values through many restorations in the future.

There is a 10-year guarantee on this piano of course. In the UK we will give a free tuning and check as part of the free service.

Final thoughts on the black polyester Steinway

This is the 1905 Steinway. it still needs some refinement. When you are restoring a piano there is endless work to do just to refine it and finish it off. Able hammers tend to need more refinement at the top end.

this Steinway also has a 10-year guarantee. We have many other videos of pianos like this on our channel. The difference in tone and touch it is under 50grams down weight with an up-weight of about 30grams again. Which is just right and makes you feel like it isn’t pushing against you. Some digital pianos the up-weight is very hard whereas it needs to be less than the down-weight. The keys will push up against you.

The rosewood is a beautiful wooden finish. this is obviously perfect in every way. This is more expensive if the other one was repolished it would not be quite so far off of the price of the other one.

This will help you think through. Every piano is different we have other models of Steinway in stock. We prefer you to come and try each piano as the touch and tone vary from piano to piano.

For a full list of stock and to see these pianos please see our stocklist.

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